Have you ever had a time in your life when everything seemed to fall apart? Literally EVERYTHING? Your mind begins to list disappointments as if they were a checklist and you just sit there in tears as you recall each thing that’s happened over the past few weeks, months, or years that has caused the pain and anguish you are currently experiencing. You check off all the times you’ve hurt and used others, and the times they’ve used and hurt you… all the ways your current life situation has kept you from living out the life you truly desire… all the instances where “If I had done this instead…” maybe the situation would be different now. You feel numb. You feel weak. You feel tired. You feel trapped. You just need something…but you don’t know what.
That was me. Yesterday. I called my sister from my parked car at 8:30 at night sobbing and hyperventilating about everything that has been going on lately. From broken relationships to stresses from work, I just poured out “my all” while she listened. When I was finished, she told me something so simple. Something my aunt told her 10 years earlier when she was going through something oh-so-similar to what I was. Something that never even crossed my mind.
“Come home…” “Just come home.”
Come home? How could I possibly come home? I was just home for 11 days! My mind became a tornado of everything I had just been thinking about and the trapping thoughts seemed to surface once again. They were ready to spew over into an outburst of more tears, before I realized… “She’s right. I need a break.”
I turned off the car, went inside, and cancelled my next trip. Something inside of me told me to put on a Catholic Lighthouse Media presentation I downloaded a few days earlier called “Emotional Virtue” by Sarah Swafford. It was so enlightening that I knew God wanted me to hear it for a reason and provided the time for me to listen to it.
In her presentation, Swafford described a time when she was on a retreat and poured out her heart to a priest, just as I had done to my sister a few minutes prior. The things she told him were so relatable: things like “I’m tired. I’m exhausted of trying to be perfect. I am tired of trying to be everything everyone else wants me to be.” As she described her concerns, I felt mine slowly lift away. “At least I am not the only one who feels this way. Others feel alone, broken, and trapped, too,” I thought. But what really hit me hard was what the priest said in response to her. Something simple like my sister said.
He told her, “I just want you to run. I want you to run to our Lord, and I want you to fall into His arms…and I want you to lay everything that you’ve been going through down. I want you to lay it at His feet. And I want you to continue running with Him. And when you’re feeling strong again, and you’re feeling whole, and you’re feeling healed, I want you to glance to your side and see [where you are at] and who is running with you. That is who you are supposed to be with and where you’re supposed to be.”
Can you say, “Mind blown?!”
My universe was shaken upside down by this simple analogy of a girl running with God. I knew that was what God was desiring of me. My attention, my time, and my love. He wanted me to focus on Him rather than get swept up in what trip I have to go on next, how I can afford grad school, what, if any, guy is gonna get ahold of me when I’m home or when I’m back in Miami, etc.
I realized that God wanted me “home” not in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. He wanted me to know that wherever I end up, He will always be there. That He is my home. He is my shelter through the storms. And He is someone who will always provide comfort when I’m feeling overwhelmed and down-trodden by the weight of the world. But I need to run with Him and put my focus on Him alone, before things will get better.
To reassure this idea that God sometimes puts us in difficult situations to increase our faith and focus solely on Him, look at today’s gospel reading from John 11. While Martha and Mary mourned Lazarus’ death, God allowed it to happen to increase their faith and other’s faith around them. Martha said she had “come” to realize that Jesus was the Lord and Messiah, and both she and her sister said that if Jesus were there, their brother would not have died. Their “coming” to realize Jesus was the Messiah, demonstrates that faith is a process. Through their difficult time, the sisters realized God’s saving power through His son. God used what seemed at first to be a bad situation, to fulfill His plan and bring about greater good. I have faith He will do the same in both your and my life if we too, recognize His power and stick by His side.
After this breakthrough, I am striving to run with God now more than ever and I hope you will do the same. My prayer today is that I, and whomever is reading this, has enough courage, strength, and confidence to run with God…To shut out his or her own evil intentions and focus on “His way” rather than “our way” of doing things.